Once More, With Feeling! 20 Years of Buffy, 10 Amazing Musical Moments
Buffy The Vampire Slayer's a classic. Twenty years later, it's still beloved by fans, remembered as a seminal piece of American TV history.
#BuffyTheVampireSlayer's a classic. Twenty years later, it's still beloved by fans, remembered as a seminal piece of American TV history, and for many, a formative experience of girl-power and undead butt-kicking. #BuffySummers was thousands of viewers' first example of a tough but multidimensional superheroine (minus the cape) - and depending on when you caught classic episode "Once More, With Feeling," she might have been your introduction to something else.
#Musicals. A few TV shows have followed suit, either in individual episodes, and one time, an entire series (we miss you, Galavant!). Musicals - and especially musical episodes of #TV shows - can be hit or miss, but "Once More, With Feeling" was a hit in the '90s, set the stage for more musical eps, and remains important and full of memorable moments. Here are ten faves.
1. "Nothing seems to penetrate my heart..."
Right from the get-go, we know the BTVS musical is going to go some dark places. But instead of simply fighting undead monsters, the opening song, "Going Through The Motions" reminds us that sometimes your strongest demons can be internal. Grief, depression, emotional numbness - until this episode I'd never heard anything that got it so well.
2. "Bunnies! Bunnies, it must be bunnies!"
Then there are other terrors. With hoppy legs and twitchy little noses. And what's with all the carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for, anyway? Suspicious if you ask Anya (who proceeds to rock out in the otherwise bouncy "I've Got A Theory"). Downright suspicious.
3. "They got! The mustard! Out!"
Simple pleasures. Small blessings. Like dry-cleaning that gets out those nasty stains. Sometimes you just have to express your joy in song.
4. "Nothing to see! Move it along! I'll never - tell!"
Whether you're a Xander/Anya shipper or not, you have to admit their duet is adorable, well-choreographed, and popping with clever-banter lyrics. I've often thought #BTVS' dialogue sounded like quippy song lyrics, and this kind of illustrates why. It sounds like actual dialogue, just set to music. And dancing. Crazy.
5. "I can lay my body down, but I can't find my sweet release..."
And then there's the angst. Fortunately, it comes in Spike-sung rock-opera form. "Rest In Peace" is a jam, and like any good musical song, it takes what could be easily groanworthy subject matter, and makes it actually powerful.
6. "I can bring whole cities to ruin, and still have time to get a soft-shoe in!"
Oh. My gosh. If we're talking highlights of a highlight episode, Broadway veteran Hinton Battle as Sweet, the dapper, tap-dancing demon takes the cake and steals the show. Lord of the dance, heart of swing, Mr. Twist and Shout. He knows what you feel, girl.
7. "I'm just standing in the way..."
And then the mood whiplash strikes again. Oh, Giles. You try so hard to do the right thing and be there for Buffy, without doing her job for her or stifling her, but like any parent(al figure), you know that balance is hard to strike, especially when your Slayer died and came back Wrong, and... sorry, crying again.
8. "Finally I knew, everything I dreamed was true..."
All of "Under Your Spell." Just all of it. This song is as magical as the singer. Here's to 20 years of Willow/Tara making us complete.
9. "So we will walk through the fire! The point of no return! We will walk through the fire, and let it..."
Every musical needs an amazing climactic ensemble-cast number, and "Walk Through The Fire" is it.
It's a return to opening song "Going Through The Motions" and its expression of raw, emotional exhaustion, depression and helplessness - followed by the determination to power through and save the day anyway. Just thinking about it gives me chills. But it's also the perfect song to kick up the tension, drama, and Feeling, and let it...
10. "Where do we go from here?"
After another tightly choreographed performance/final battle -
Yes, we fight the demonic antag, musical-style. But then, as is so common with post-show depression, some of the #Broadway shine wears off. Leaving the cast exhausted (but they kind of won), with just one question left.
And in a fitting end to an emotionally intense rollercoaster of an episode, we have a Big Damn Kiss. Because of course we do. (Leave the consequences for next episode!)
So how'd you enjoy the show... and by that I mean, this article?
Thanks for reading, and remember, life's a show you don't get to rehearse, and you never need an excuse to break into song. If someone gives you a hard time, blame it on the dancing demon.
About the author
Writes weird books about marginalized people surviving/rocking out (CHAMELEON MOON, STAKE SAUCE), amazing puns, and geeky articles. Lives with chronic pain/genetic weirdness. An actual mutant. Open Your Eyes, Look Up To The Skies And See!